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MC 850

Girls' High School Association (Boston, Mass.). Records of the Girls' High School Association, 1837-1966 (inclusive), 1870-1955 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 850
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Girls' High School Association (Boston, Mass.)
Title: Records of the Girls' High School Association, 1837-1966 (inclusive), 1870-1955 (bulk)
Date(s): 1837-1966
Date(s): 1870-1955
Quantity: 5.55 linear feet (11 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 1 folio folder, 9 photograph folders, 3 folio photograph folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English and French.
Abstract: Correspondence, reports, scrapbooks, photographs, etc, of the Girls' High School Association, the alumnae association of the Girls' High School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 79-M274
This collection was given to the Schlesinger Library by Mary Kiley in November 1979.

Processing Information:

Processed: March 2016
By: Rose C. Oliveira with assistance from Dan Bullman

Access Restrictions:

Most of the collection is open for research. Folder #12FB.1v is closed until digitized.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Girls' High School Association is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Girls' High School Association (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1837-1966; item description, dates. MC 850, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.


The Girls' High School was founded in 1852 as the Normal School and was established to provide elementary school teacher training for women in the city of Boston. The popularity of the school reflected a desire for more varied advanced education beyond primary school for girls in Boston. The curriculum changed to reflect this need and the school was renamed the Girls' High School and Normal School in 1854. In 1864, the Normal Department was separated from the general school and formally became independent of the Girls' High School in 1872. In the mid-1950s, the city of Boston attempted to consolidate and make co-educational several schools including the Girls' High School. Public outcry prevented this change for a short time and the Girls' High School became co-educational only in the early 1970s. In 1974, the school was renamed Roxbury High School and was closed in 1981.
The Girls' High School Association, the alumnae association of the Girls' High School, Boston, was first organized during the Civil War to encourage social reunions and promote the welfare of the school. An offshoot organization, the Samuel Eliot Memorial Association, open to teachers and a minimum of two members of each class, was founded in 1899. Samuel Eliot was the headmaster of the Girls' High School from 1872 to 1876 and a lifelong supporter of the Girls' High School. The purpose of this secondary organization was to cherish Samuel Eliot's memory and ideals, to maintain a Christmas concert, and to chronicle the life of the school.


The collection is arranged in two series:


This collection consists of reports and correspondence of the Girls' High School Association; photographs of students and teachers; scrapbooks and reports of the classes; letters, diaries, and reminiscences of teachers and staff; and printed and manuscript chronicles of the Girls' High School. Reports and activities of the Samuel Eliot Memorial Association are also included. The bulk of the material ranges from 1867 to 1955 and documents the establishment, administration, and activities of the two associations. This includes correspondence and reports on events and finance. The correspondence focuses on the organizing of class reunions, concerts, and other activities. The foundation of the school and its curriculum and leaders can be found in the histories written by alumnae as well as reminiscences on staff and faculty. Also included are photographs, correspondence, diaries, and memorials to the faculty, many of whom were originally students of the school. The collection provides insights into women's education, the experiences and development of the Girls' High School faculty, students, and staff, as well as personal reflections on topical matters.
Significant material regarding women and children's experience of life during World War I can also be found in this collection. The Fatherless Children of France (1916-1920) was a relief organization that connected American sponsors, or "godparents," to French children under sixteen whose fathers had been killed in war. The Samuel Eliot Memorial Association participated in this program supporting five children from 1917 to 1930 (#8.7-11.3, PD.1fv). These materials provide detailed information on life in France for women and children during World War I.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs
Class reunions--Massachusetts--Boston
France--Description and travel--19th century
Germany--Description and travel--19th century
Girls--Education (Secondary)--Massachusetts--Boston
Greece--Description and travel--19th century
High schools--Alumni and alumnae--Societies, etc.
High school students--Massachusetts--Boston
High school teachers--Massachusetts--Boston
Italy--Description and travel--19th century
School administrators--Massachusetts--Boston
Women teachers--United States
World War, 1914-1918--Children--France
World War, 1914-1918--Civilian relief
World War, 1914-1918--Women
Caryl, Harriet E.
Eliot, Samuel, 1821-1898
Knapp, Katharine
Girls' High School (Boston, Mass.)
Samuel Eliot Memorial Association
Temple, Emma A., -1887
Wright, Julia Jellison